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The Uganda WASH Sector on Friday 7th October recognised the media for informing and educating the public about water sanitation and hygiene. The purpose of the initiative is to promote coverage of WASH issues in the local, national and international media and to have a positive influence on decision-makers, the private sector, the civil society as well as individuals and households.
"I always wondered how people would be taught to build latrines and wash their hands. Now we have the media as a credible and motivated partner."
Those were the words of Uganda's State Minister for Primary Education, Rosemary Seninde, as she spoke at the inaugural Uganda WASH Media Awards, Friday 7th October 2016.
The Uganda WASH Media Awards was a prelude to the 2016 Global Hand Washing Day, which will be celebrated in Kamuli District on Friday 14th October. The Awards sought to recognize the outstanding contribution of the media to the WASH sector, mainly through public information and education.
"Thank you for educating and informing the public. Without media coverage the importance of wash would be faded and locked behind walls," Minister Seninde said, as she acknowledged that media promotion of good health and hygiene contributed to the reduction of diseases especially in slums and urban settlements. She appealed to the media practitioners to continue with the coverage of WASH and asked them to focus on schools sanitation and hygiene.
The Minister of Water and Environment, Sam Cheptoris noted that the key challenge facing the sector is the 33% of the population which has no access to safe and clean water. "Water is a human right. People have a right to clean and safe water, but 33% of the population has no access. We are concerned about this figure," Cheptoris said. He also reaffirmed that the government of Uganda targets to have one source of water per village by 2020 in order to ensure that all people have access to the service.
Minister Cheptoris also hailed the media for helping WASH sector to reach out to people with important messages. "I have been reading the articles without thinking about the names behind them. Now I have met the people who help us with our work," he said, urging the media to highlight the dangers of poor sanitation and hygiene practices, especially open defecation. "Focus attention on teaching people the best practices of WASH. The hygiene of our people leaves a lot to be desired," he appealed.
The former Executive Director of Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), Doctor Maggie Kigozi was alarmed by the current rate of hand washing, which was reported to be at 33% among the rural population and 38% among school children. "The hand washing figures are terrible! What role can the private sector play?" Kigozi said. She noted that the SDGs recognize the role of the private sector especially as tax payers and job creators who should therefore be brought on board in the WASH Sector. "The private sector should be brought on board because we can make a huge difference. We have funds and skills to enable CSOs move forward," Kigozi said.
Commissioner for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Engineer Joseph Eyatu noted that while the hand washing statistics are still very low, there has been tremendous improvement over the years. "We are now at 33%, but we started at a much lower rate," Eyatu said.
He noted that the WASH sector partnership with the media would further highlight the importance of handwashing and help to control diseases. "There is a lot that the media can write about but we feel that for the people, the WASH story matters more than anything. When you write about WASH you touch the hearts of the people," Eyatu said.
Ahead of the Global Hand Washing Day celebrations, the winning journalists will be taken on a field trip to Kamuli District, where they will be exposed to the realities of WASH in a rural setting. This experience is expected to give them more insights in key WASH issues which they will continue exposing in the media for a long time to come.
Journalists' entries were considered in five categories including social media, radio, TV, print – investigative and print – feature. Some of the key criteria applied by the judges included:
• Skills of journalism: accuracy, fairness, style, creativity, objectivity, balance, originality...
• Fact checkers to prove the accuracy especially of figures
• Clarity and interpretation
• Public benefit and audience engagement
• Illustrations to help understand the message, innovation in the story
The winners and runners up in each category are presented in the table below
|Print - Investigative||Paul Tajuba (Daily Monitor)||Francis Mugerwa (Daily Monitor)|
|Print - Feature||Ronald Mugabe, Owen Owagabaza & George Bita (The New Vision )||Felix Basiime (Daily Monitor)|
|TV - feature||Kenneth Kavulu (BBS Telefayina)||Zahra Namuli (NBS TV)|
|Radio||Judith Atim (KFM)||Osman Patricia (Capital FM)|
|Online||Collins Hinamundi (News24africa)|
|Outstanding upcountry story||Richard Ekotu (Voice of Lango)|